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Sport and Outdoors

Airmotion Aura modular air mask helps beat the haze (hands-on)

If you live in a place with terrible air pollution but still want to exercise outdoors, this N95 air mask, with its removable ventilator, could be just the thing.

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Aloysius Low/CNET

I live in Singapore, where the air is usually clean, but for about a month every year, the island gets shrouded in terrible smoggy haze from burning forests in nearby Indonesia. While you can get disposable masks, these can be very uncomfortable, especially in Singapore's hot and humid weather. The Airmotion Aura air mask has a filter to protect your lungs and a ventilator to pump in fresh air to keep things cool. I got to try it out.

This new gadget is modular: the air filter is replaceable, and the ventilator swappable. It retails for around S$98, which converts to approximately $70, £50 or AU$95. Its straps are adjustable and the ventilator promises a charge of around 3 hours.

Air pollution isn't just about the lowered visibility that happens when smog fills the skies. Much of the danger to your health from polluted air comes from particulate matter (PM) that's thinner than a strand of hair, PM2.5. The number designates the size of the particle -- in this case, 2.5 micrometers -- and your respiratory tract isn't quite capable of filtering particles of such sizes and smaller. You'll need a special N95 mask that's capable of doing so, and Aura meets this standard.

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A ventilator helps to circulate air.

Aloysius Low/CNET

Designed by a Singaporean living in Beijing -- where the air is famously polluted -- the Aura is modular, which means you're able to swap out parts such as the ventilator for other, as yet unannounced, features in the future. The N95 filter is replaceable, so you don't have to buy a completely new set every time it wears out. The medical grade silicon seal and straps don't chafe on the skin, and are washable with warm water and soap.

Key specs

  • Modular system
  • N95 filter to block out PM2.5 pollutants
  • Ventilator helps keep things cool
  • Medical-grade silicon straps and face seal

You will look like Bane wearing this, which I didn't quite appreciate. I did find that the ventilator helps keep things a little cooler, though I still found myself perspiring thanks to Singapore's humid weather. I did quite a lot of brisk walking with the ventilator in sports mode, and found that it does help to circulate air. A normal disposable mask would have trapped my exhalations, which isn't ideal due to CO2 buildup, of course.

Compared to a regular disposable mask, the Airmotion Aura isn't cheap, but it can be reused and the ventilator helps if you're looking to exercise even in polluted weather.

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Because it's modular, you can easily replace parts that have broken down, or get longer straps if needed.

Aloysius Low/CNET

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